Pharmacists in England will start referring customers to a free NHS weight loss programme as part of a new initiative to help people adopt healthier lifestyles.
High street pharmacists will be encouraged to recommend the new free programme to obese customers who are looking to lose weight and improve their health. The 12-week programme is an online service, which can also be accessed via a smartphone app. The plan provides advice, tips and support to help people to lose weight safely and healthily. Current data suggests that around 1 in 4 adults in England are obese.
The move will make the weight loss programme more accessible. Previously, patients could only access the plan via GP referrals and the programme was targeted at those with diabetes and high blood pressure. Now, high street pharmacists will be able to recommend the programme to patients with a BMI (body mass index) of over 30. People from minority ethnic backgrounds will be able to access the plan if they have a BMI of over 27.5 due to an elevated risk of type 2 diabetes.
BMI is a useful metric for most people. It is calculated using height and weight measurements. In most cases, a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is healthy. A reading of 25 to 29.9 means that the individual is overweight and a figure of 30 to 39.9 indicates obesity. If you have a BMI of over 40, you would be considered ‘severely obese.’
Deputy Chief Pharmaceutical Officer at NHS England, Dr Bruce Warner, said that obesity is a “significant threat to the nation’s health- it increases your chance of dying from Covid and puts you at greater risk of stroke, cancer and other deadly disease.” Dr Warner added that the NHS’s “radical action plan” will enable more people to take advantage of effective weight loss programmes through local pharmacies.
Under the new guidelines, trained pharmacy workers will provide assistance and advice to help those who are eligible for the weight management plan to access resources and follow the 12-week programme.
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